Macondo History Before the Blowout
By: CEOoftheSOFAJuly 4, 2010This history of the Macondo well blowout has been assembled using information fromthe Oil & Gas Journal and the Houston Chronicle, two of the more reliable sources ofinformation on the oil and gas industry.The information released to the public on the cause of the blowout has been insufficient.BP is unwilling to release information due to the liability issues. The federal governmenthas much information that it is not releasing. I have assembled as much reliableinformation as I could and tried to make a reasonable guess as to the cause of theblowout. My opinion on the cause differs from the views of the popular press.
History of the Macondo well
The Macondo well is an exploratory well, in search of a new oil field at a water depth of4992 ft. The well was estimated to require 51 days to drill at a cost of $96 million.The well was spudded on October 7, 2009 by the Transocean Marianas. The drilling rigwas damaged in Hurricane Ida on Nov. 8-9 and was towed to a shipyard on November26 for repairs. The Transocean Horizon rig resumed drilling when they landed the BOPstack on February 8, 2010.The well experienced four well control events. A well control event is when formationfluids (oil, gas, water) enter the wellbore, also known as a “kick”. These events occurredon Feb. 17-23, March 2-5, March 8-14, and April 4-7. The primary method of detectinga kick is to measure increases of drilling mud volume in the mud tanks. Typically, whenthis is observed, the pipe rams on the blow-out preventer are closed. The pipe ramsseal around the drill pipe. The mud flow exiting the well is directed through a chokevalve which is partially closed to increase the surface pressure. This increases thebottom hole pressure and prevents further influx of formation fluids into the wellbore.The formation fluids are then circulated out of the well while increasing the mud weightby adding barite to the drilling mud. When the mud weight is increased, it is no longernecessary to hold back pressure with the choke valve. At this point, drilling can resume.A synthetic, oil based drilling mud was used. At the completion of the drilling, the mudweight was 14 pounds per gallon (ppg). This equates to a formation pressure of 13,366pounds per square inch (psi).The well was drilled to a total depth of 18,360 ft. A tapered string of production casingconsisting of 7” and 9-5/8” casing was run from the total depth of the well to the surface.The casing was cemented by Halliburton. The purpose of the cement is to seal outformation fluids. When the well is ready to be put on production, holes will be perforatedinto the casing to allow oil and gas to enter the wellbore.The following table is a summary of the casing program:
Outside Depth Depth CementCasing Casing Casing YieldDiameter Bottom Top top Weight Type Strength (burst)